Another typical day in Germany: the customer is never right

This is about what happened this morning, but first we have to back up six months. Last fall I took the beast in to get the winter tires put on. As usual, I stopped in first beforehand on my bike to make an appointment.

Oh, sorry. We don’t take appointments anymore.

Why not?

We found that too many customers weren’t showing up, so we had mechanics sitting around idle.

Well how am I supposed to plan for anything? My wife needs the car on some days to drive to work. I can’t just show up and hope for the best.

Well, sorry. You can leave the keys with us tomorrow morning, and we’ll try to get to it during the day.

Fine, I say.

Fast-forward six months to this morning. I stuff the car with four summer tires and head to the same place to get them mounted. I walk in and get served right away.

Do you have an appointment?

… moment of stunned silence….

But I was here yesterday. I talked to the guy who said I should just drop in this morning with the keys. He didn’t say anything about making an appointment, and I didn’t ask because six months ago I was told you didn’t take appointments anymore.

Well, you should have made an appointment.

But that’s just the thing, I tell him. I was told by you people when I brought the winter tires in last fall that I couldn’t, and besides, nobody told me that when I dropped by yesterday.

Who did you speak with?

(As if I know their names) Well, it was a guy with a beard, older fellow.

Naw, couldn’t have been him.

Well anyway, I don’t understand how I’m supposed to guess whether or not I can make an appointment or not.

Well, maybe it was just a temporary thing due to certain conditions back then, I don’t know. Just leave us the keys and we’ll try to squeeze you in today, but you probably won’t get the car until tomorrow night.

© 2008 lettershometoyou

7 Responses to “Another typical day in Germany: the customer is never right”

  1. April 23, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    How freaking maddening. Makes you want to scream. I have discovered with German “customer service” types is that they like to say “no” before they say “yes”. I let them have their “no”, but keep standing around, waiting, until they eventually get round to saying “yes”. Sounds like you had the “no” followed by the “yes”, but not without the freaking maddening irritation in-between. Tests your nerves, doesn’t it?

  2. April 24, 2008 at 12:29 pm


    You bet. Next up is a post which combines cycling and the usual poor service, this time from a taxi driver. Stay tuned.🙂

  3. April 24, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    You know when you’ve been Germaned….

  4. April 25, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    There is no way winning – even if you win you never triumph.

    I used to take the Paderborn-Bielefeld train on a daily basis. One of the ticket takers was especially rude. He’d order people, in an almost empty wagon, to put their suitcase on their handbag on the rack or floor, instead of on the seat beside them. He refused to accept a driver’s license as adequate identification, to accompany the semester ticket.

    I wrote a dienstaufsichtsbeschwerde, which was very friendly. Of course I was right, and they’d talked to the person in question and cleared him up on proper procedure, etc. But I noticed no change in the character. I carried that letter with me a few weeks, just waiting for the moment that he’d refuse my identification. The moment came, of course, and I showed him the letter. He read it and just shook his head, mumbling, “jaja, immer schön nach aussen…”

  5. April 26, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    I’d never assume that things were still working the same way they had been six months previously … just naturally wary that way.

    That’ll teach you for trusting people! 😛

  6. June 4, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    They have a saying in germany Hilfe ein Kunde, which means Help a customer! I enjoyed reading your story.

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